Do you dream visually?


When Tom and I first tell people about his experience of aphantasia we often get asked this question: Do you dream?

Tom doesn’t dream visually, he dreams with the knowledge he’s experiencing something, except it’s without mental pictures or sound. According to this study, many individuals with aphantasia report fewer and less sensory-rich dreams like Tom.

However, some aphantasics say they can dream with visuals, even if they can’t do so when they’re awake. Here’s a story about seeing images just as you’re waking up from sleep.

What are your dreams like?

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To be honest, I don’t know.

I know that I dream and sometimes I can recall my dreams (usually only for a short amount of time) but I can’t figure out one thing. Do I dream in pictures and remember them just like an ordinary memory from a moment I’m awake or do I dream as I think and still remember them just like a memory? At first I wanted to think that I dream in pictures, I thought that long before I discoverd I have aphantasia, but the more I think about how my memory works the more unsure I get. Is it just me creating "memories" in my dreams or do I actually live my dreams in pictures?

I only discovered I have aphantasia recently and until then I didn’t believe anyone actually saw images in their head. I’ve never had a dream or any sort of experience while I’ve been asleep, it’s all just as blank asleep as it is when I’m awake. My friends have recently tried to explain the experience of a dream to me and I find it fascinating because I can’t comprehend seeing pictures especially not while asleep.

I have known pretty much my whole life that I have aphantasia, but found out just about at the beginning of the year that what I have has a name. Aphantasia.

I always recall this one day when I lost something. My father sat me down and asked me to close my eyes in hopes to retrace my steps and maybe find out where I had last seen the object. As one would’ve expected, everything was black.

Fast forward a few years later, I was 11 and, by that age, the idea of spirit animals intrigued me a lot. There were some videos in which the creators asked you to close your eyes and think of an animal, picture it, visualize the surroundings etc. It was all black. I gave up. I felt it was something normal for me, but that was the first time a thought passed my mind: Why was this person asking people to do something they maybe cannot do? Do people actually see when closing their eyes?

For me, I can only see when in a reverie since I collect the colors and information all around me to form a picture. If I close my eyes, everything is pitch black. The only time I can faintly visualize something with the corner of my eye is when I’m extenuated and about to fall asleep. But when I concentrate my eyes on the picture, it disappears.

Other than that, I dream just fine and often as well. People are actually surprised upon hearing the amount of details I can retain from my dreams. I usually remember almost everything.

And as a plus, I have met people with aphantasia and most of them were artists(writers or painters). I love to believe that, devoid of a third eye, we chose to lay out our thoughts on a piece of paper. 🙂 I don’t know how I would act if I could visualize stuff – not the same, probably. I like it that I have aphantasia.

I have one vivd memory of nightmare, was 8 and going to my friends house to play on his ps3 with him, i went inside and the gravity suddenly rotated and i got pinned to the wall with a chair. after that a fridge hit me. now that i think about it it may be me making up a memory since im a pretty messed up person, but then again id make it alot gory so to say. after that ive never had a dream, but maybe i never thought about it because in my religon before you go to sleep you say a prayer and you arent supposed to dream, but i think i got it from my dad since he has it too, and he's the one who told me that

What religion is that if you don’t mind my asking?

I dream in words, as if I’m telling myself a story.

I dream in very clear images. It’s only waking that I can’t visualize. There’s a window when I am just falling asleep that I see random images, but it is impossible for me consciously call up an image.

This sounds very like me, although I only believe I “see” in my dreams based on my waking memory of what happened when I was asleep. It could always be a false memory.

It’s weird because I actually do dream and I’m pretty sure my dreams are ‘normal’ like people without Aphantasia have. I think this because I know I can have life-like and lucid dreams where it feels like I’m really there. I often dream in third-person too which is weird, observing myself in different situations. However, when I wake up, I maybe have a few seconds of being able to remember some snapshots and then it all goes away.

I remember things as facts. So if I retain something as a fact, I will be able to recall it. Like "Bananas are yellow" (as a very basic example). So unless I happen to think in the few seconds of me waking up "oh, that dream about being on holiday was cool" (and thus acknowledging a fact about the dream), I won’t remember what happened at all, because that imagery part of my brain seems to ‘fog up’ when I am awake.

My dreams are extremely vivid and in third person when I do dream. I can’t pull up images to remember obviously but I can recall details from memory quite well but it has to be immediate after waking up. The dreams themselves don’t make much sense but it is like watching a film, it is very exhausting when I do dream and somehow retain the useless details. 1 out of 10 dreams I have Im able to lucid dream for brief periods but the extent is very limited.

I’ve always wondered if its my brain compensating from the aphantasia I have being a creative person despite the lack of visualizing I dont have. the ideas are merely conceptual and take from references ive seen.

I never remember my dreams so I’m not sure if I dream visually.

When I’m first waking up though I do sometimes ‘imagine’ myself getting up, washed and dressed and it feels so real when I wake up properly I’m startled to find myself still in bed.

I can also get seriously strong feelings of deja vu where it feels like I can also predict the next couple of seconds.

I dream pretty good with decent imagery.
My most common dream for years has been that of floating. Sometimes only a few inches above the ground — take a step and glide for dozens of feet before the next step — and sometimes for several tens of feet but rarely above the height of trees or surrounding buildings. However, on rare occasions, the floating can be up in the clouds. It’s kind of fun stepping out of the window of a building several floors up and sink slowly down to the ground.
I have noticed that if it is cold and I have a heavy comforter on, I cannot float at all in my dreams. I’m heavily tied to the ground instead and it is a struggle to move much.
In all this, though, I have decent imagery.
What is strange is when having something read in a dream. A sign, a storefront window, a newspaper, a book, a menu, or pretty much anything. In a dream years ago, I was reading something that made perfect sense but for some reason I tried to read it again. The second time, it was pure gibberish. My mind took notice of this and since then, whenever I read something in a dream, I usually end up rereading it with the same results.
One other thing that might be interesting, for a period of about ten years I was working far too much and got to where I slept about two hours a night. At first, I would crash for six to eight hours every week or two, but it got to where I didn’t do that. I loved all the extra time that I had but my dreams cut back to maybe one every six months and I really hated it.
Nearly twenty years ago my sleep pattern became more normal (about five to nine hours per night) and I seem to dream far more readily than I ever did before. Now I often have dreams in even a half hour nap. Sometimes I even feel like I start dreaming as I fall asleep.

I do dream, but I suppose not visually.

While it does feel real while I dream, I do not retain any visual memory.

I do know that I used to have dreams and other involuntary imagination (mostly hallucinations), before the age of 6-8. The only involunatry "imagination" I had later on were panic/anxiety attacks where I pretty much lost all sense spatial perception, appearing and feeling frightening small compared to my surroundings, my bed suddenly growing to the size of a room, stadium or a small valley/caldera.

My dreams seem to be engineered by a dream factory that has control of my brain while I’m asleep. They are dreams that completely make no sense even though most people’s dreams make no sense. They do not seem like real dreams. I rarely dream at all but when I do, I cannot recall them. Sometimes when I experience sleep paralysis, I wake up while in the middle of a lucid dream or nightmare where I can’t move a thing. I can actually feel real pain in my dreams and I am surprised I don’t wake up with scars although that’s possible for me. 

My dreams seem to be like non-aphantasia peoples’ dreams. I see in color, I “see “ people and places. I just can’t do those thing not in dreams! The only other time I can sort-of “see” in my mind is a during a particularly vivid flashback/ptsd episode. Those are almost like dreams in that I often don’t realize it’s happening until I’m “stuck” in it. But even those aren’t as vivid as dreams. 

Dreaming. I don’t like dreaming.

I found out that aphantasia was a thing after I watched a video about it on YouTube just last year. I always thought it was normal to not actually see things when people say “close your eyes and imagine…” and that it was just some kind of mental task or something – I have no idea. But dreaming? Yeah, I dream sounds and voices. My most common dream is complete silence, as in I can hear(?) the silence. Other times I hear voices: people talking, whispering or even screaming.

I once dreamed hearing a 6am forest environment with birds chirping, small gusts of wind rustling the leaves and other leaf forest sounds. I remember hearing a continuous heart beat and calm breathing, and after a (what felt like a long time) while I heard someone run through some bushes close by, then pass me as they stepped on the leaf covered undergrowth. Sometime later I heard a male scream that was cut off from far away. I can still hear the heart beat and calm breathing through this whole ordeal. Then I hear rustling, someone sneaking or walking silently towards me (?) and whisper. 
After this I wake up, not fun. I never remembered what the whisper was, if there even were words. 

This is the dream I remember the most vividly of all I have had.

Dreaming is very unpleasant in my opinion.

I do dream, often quite intensely, but I can never recall the images on waking at all. I have ADHD and terrible insomnia too, and usually, in the weird state when I’m just falling asleep or drifting in and out when I’m super exhausted, I have very odd quasi-dreams which are more like experiencing switching mechanical states rather than experiences. It’s very hard to explain, but sometimes I’ll feel like a camera in my brain is zooming in or out, or searching for focus. 

My dreams feel more like short, emotional stories or experiences — no visuals. I’m not really sure if there are sounds, definitely not any other senses. I rarely remember dreams (I’m not sure how to differentiate between “not dreaming” and “not remembering dreams”) but the ones I do remember are stress dreams on a few similar topics. I have had only a handful of pleasant/neutral dreams in my life. 

An example: I awake and remember dreaming that I had to pack for a flight to Italy very quickly and on the plane I realize I’ve forgotten something important.

I dream with visuals and sounds but I don’t remember ever feeling touch or smelling anything in a dream. Also if I think about the dream after waking, I cannot see the dream anymore. 
Concious: black abyss 
Dream state: sights and sounds


I have very vivid dreams. It was actually in a discussion about dreaming that I learned about aphantasia since I mentioned to some friends that I wished I could see things in my minds eye like I could when I dream and was surprised to learn that they could. Google lead me to the concept of aphantasia and understanding my way of being. I’ve always been irritated when people asked me to visualize something like relaxing on a beach since it seemed inconceivable – why did they ask people to do such a silly thing- not realizing that some people could actually do that. Learning about aphantasia explained a lot though I still wish I could visualize as clearly as I dream.


I’m not sure I hear sound or see images in my dreams. Prior to finding out about aphantasia, I always thought I did but I am not able to visually recall anything from my dreams when I wake even if I remember the dream so it’s hard to know if I’m reliving the visual experience or just a mental one similar to my actual memories. I just have the knowledge that I saw them and I’m not sure if anything is in color if I do see it because I don’t remember the color of anything.

My deams are always visual, and normally really vivid, when I’m dreaming, its fairly difficult to know that it’s a dream.  And I dream as if I’m awake, in the first person, I have the same persona and have the same feelings and reactions that I would have to things, as I would if I was in the same situation when I was awake..  a lot of the times the dreams and feelings are so vivid that there is a real hangover from the dream for up to a few hours after I wake up they come with intense feelings.

When I wake up I can’t visualise the dream, however I still have the memories of what happened and can recall the effects they had on my emotions and recall the emotions of the events that I dreamed.

Hi, I dream in words phrases that I think, once in a great while I can count on my fingers and I’m 57 I will get a visual in a dream of an object for a second then its gone this must be in deep sleep also I act out or move like a dog does according to what I dream.people are always faceless.

I don’t usually have visual dreams and when I do it’s usually very vague. I can sometimes recall what the dream was about but never picture it. I’ve taken to writing some of my dreams down while they are still fresh if they have enough details. If I touch a part of my body in a dream I can sometimes feel it like I’m actually doing it. Words and conversations get repeated a lot in my dreams almost like I’m doing different takes of a scene in a movie. 

I do dream visually and fairly accurately. The clarity of my dreams contrasts significantly with my conscious ability to bring up an image.

I do dream visually (I think anyway). Obviously once I wake up it becomes all facts and details and I have no hope of being able to visualise or have the other senses I had during the dream. I don’t think in dreams I can smell or feel. Anyway that’s my experience with dreams and I try to write as much as I can remember after having one

My ability to visualize in my dreams vary. Some nights I can know that I have dreamed at least somewhat visually but as soon as I am conscious enough to realize I am visualizing I lose the ability to visualize but still retain facts of the dream until I fully wake up where I usually forget most of any dream regardless if it was visual or not.

No I’ve never been able to visually dream. Dreams were always a weird concept to me I never understood how people could have such vivid dreams and then when I told people I couldn’t dream they would always just tell me that I just don’t remember it, but to me at least it always felt more like an absence than just forgetting them. 

I used to can’t dream because if I was to try to remember my dream as soon as I woke up, my dreams would be all blank white. Now, I can dream visually and it is so visual that my dreams almost became reality, but most of the time as soon as I woke up and try to recollect my dream I can’t visually picture it instead it is blurry.

I dream vividly and in color. 

I do not usually dream, or do not remember my dreams at all. But sometimes I realise I am dreaming and then realise that it is a dream and begin to manipulate the dream

I dream in words, like reading a story to myself. I often wonder what I dreamed before I had acquired the spoken word. Since attaining adulthood I have learnt to direct my dreams, handy when becoming disturbing.

My dreams, which I often intentionally extend or sustain, are incredibly visual. But without sound.  I feel as though I’m between sleep and waking, I am aware I am dreaming and I want to stay there, partly because I am able to “see” images which is impossible while awake.

I have had the same experience. When a dream has been visual and I’ve awakened in the middle of it, I try to re-enter it and describe it to myself in the hope that I’ll be able to see it when I’m no longer asleep. Unfortunately, I can’t see it again, but I can remember some of these descriptions of the imagery.

Rarely can I remember my dreams. When I dream, it is hard to distinguish details. Even though I instinctually know what the images are supposed to be. My dreams remind me of a chalk drawing. Where someone rubbed their hand across the picture several times, it’s blurry, but you can make out that something is there.